Let Us Reason Together

For those who hoped that our experience of living in times of crisis might end with 2020, I do not need to tell you that your hopes have already been dashed.

We might consider the string of crises that date back to last March as separate events, or we might think of them as one multi-faceted whole. We might also discuss those who appear to have engineered them, manipulated them or benefited from them.

But one thing is for sure: We are living in a time of national crisis, and our way of life has been altered—likely forever—in ways that we could not have imagined 12 months ago.

The latest round of crisis erupted before us on Wednesday, as a day that many anticipated would bring high political drama somehow escalated into life-and-death chaos through an unprecedented assault on the United States Capitol building.

We who are only able to watch these events from afar wonder how many of them are largely gamesmanship—distractions to take our eyes off of the Great Reset that world leaders promise, beginning this month; or whether the promised reset itself is merely political theater.

It is very difficult to know what to say about any of these issues. First of all, do any of us have enough of the facts to say anything meaningful at all? Secondly, what might we say that cannot be disproven—or, at least, found to be obsolete—by the time it is posted? And what is there to be said, really, that has not been said a million times already?

Ah, there is the point!

My purpose in this short column is not to tell you I have all the answers regarding what is happening in the minds and machinations of politicos who have set their designs on managing one crisis upon another over the past 11 months. Nor do I claim to have a political solution that will bring external peace and happiness to all those who read.

Nor do I think that those are the greatest needs at this hour.

Right now, the world, at its worst, needs the church, at its best. It needs a clearly considered and thoroughly Biblical response to all aspects of the crises that threaten us now from every side.

Such a unique response will not be crafted to address the political calculations of those looking for quick fixes. In fact, “the natural man (will) not receive” this prescription at all, “for” it will be “foolishness to him” (1 Cor. 2:14). It must still be offered and made available for the one “who has an ear,” that he might “hear” (Rev. 3:22), however.

Largely failing to understand such a response, the world will instead seek to place us on the horns of a dilemma that it creates for us. In so doing, the world hopes to deceive us into, perhaps inadvertently, conceding to many other points of its evil and godless agenda. Since all of us are now on social media, we must now all learn to think in terms of how media operates. That means, for one thing, that we dare not make any statement of which any part can be twisted out of context to our detriment. Sloppiness is not an option. We must all learn quickly to become “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16).

Furthermore, the response that we offer must account for all aspects of the events of our time—including the ways in which these events clearly appear to be setting the stage for future prophetic fulfillment.

Some people—even my friends—do not like it when I talk this way. They accuse me of date-setting, or of attempting to shoehorn America into Bible prophecy—where it is neither specifically named nor implied. I am certainly not doing either of those. What I am saying is that the world’s lone superpower must somehow relate to the events surrounding the coming, global tribulation. We may not know how, but we certainly know that it does.

It is difficult to watch the things that are happening to our beloved nation, yet God has placed each of us here “for such a time as this” (Esth. 4:14), and He has made us stewards accountable to Him for the opportunities that He has given us at this strategic and vitally important time.

One opportunity that all of us have is that of “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) in such a skillful and pointed way that it will become that “word fitly spoken” (Prov. 25:11) for which the world is desperately—even if unknowingly—longing.

But before we can speak wisely, we first have to think deeply. And this is our challenge:

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord. (Isa. 1:18a)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Paul Scharf 2019 Bio


Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, serving in the midwest. He also assists Whitcomb Ministries and writes for “Answers” Magazine and Regular Baptist Press. For more information on his ministry, visit foi.org/scharf or email pscharf@foi.org.

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I appreciate the tone and focus here. These are comforting words.

There is quite a bit that isn't at all unclear about what happened last week, though. There are some important facts that everyone right of center needs to face. There's a larger body of ideas that may not quite qualify as facts but are "extremely probable" evaluations. My mind has been roiling with so many things to say on this, I hardly know where to start.

That usually means I need to wait for the most important parts to float to the surface.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

JBL's picture

Let us also not fail to contextualize America's current situation with what has gone on in the past.

What I am saying is that the word’s (sic) lone superpower must somehow relate to the events surrounding the coming, global tribulation. We may not know how, but we certainly know that it does.

Could this not have equally applied to Rome, the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, Spain, and England?  Where are those superpowers now, and does anyone in the American church concern themselves with how these former empires relate to the tribulation?

We are living in a time of national crisis, and our way of life has been altered—likely forever—in ways that we could not have imagined 12 months ago.

Consider how the landscape changed for Russian Christians in 1917 with the Bolsheviks coming into power and setting off the Russian Civil war that would claim millions of lives in the ensuing conflicts and famines, as well as targeted persecution and executions of Christians (among other religious and ethinc groups), both lay and clergy.

The current American situation just isn't that.

But I would agree with Paul that the focus of Christians as the coming again of Jesus Christ draws near needs to be around being found faithful when He comes, and what that will look like in both spirit and deed.  Too much of the church's emphasis regarding this teaching has been focused on repudiating the perceived political and cultural winds that may accompany His return, but whose presence in no way affects whether Christians can be faithful to Him.

John B. Lee

Paul J. Scharf's picture

I appreciate you running the article, and the very encouraging words at the top. God Bless!

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

Paul J. Scharf's picture

I appreciate your comments!

What I would say regarding the comparisons that you make with the past is this: We are obviously at a much later point in history than those nations were, and we are facing the onset of a global techno-totalitarianism—which is both brand new and directly in line with events that can be expected to unfold in the tribulation, at least from my perspective.

So, whenever I hear someone say that these things have happened many times before, I want to say, in return, "No, they haven't."

Then you ask, "... does anyone in the American church concern themselves with how these former empires relate to the tribulation?" I would say, yes we do—to the degree that they descended from nations mentioned in Biblical prophecy, and to the degree that there are still remnants of them left to live on in the final Antichrist kingdom of Revived Rome. Remember, when the statue of Nebuchadnezzar's dream collapses, it will destroy the ENTIRE statue (Dan. 2:35, 45). Each of those nations, from Babylon onward, continue to live on, in telescopic fashion, in the kingdoms that follow them. This is a dynamic that is important to understand throughout the book of Daniel.

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

T Howard's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
Right now, the world, at its worst, needs the church, at its best. It needs a clearly considered and thoroughly Biblical response to all aspects of the crises that threaten us now from every side.

Paul, I agree. However, the American church (at least many within conservative Christianity) has wedded itself to politics, and, as we're seeing now, that has caused tremendous damage to the cause of Christ. The "cancel culture" is here and will be unleashed with fervor on Bible-believing Christians. If I'm right, the primary result of this "cancel culture" on Christians will be the loss of access to communication platforms and the loss of employment for those brave souls who dare to publicly promote / defend biblical morality.

Unfortunately, "cancel culture" is a weapon that Christians used in the 1980s (i.e. boycotts and bans) and have unleashed upon themselves especially with their support for Trump these last four years. The culture already hates biblical Christianity, and in our support for Trump we've given them good reason to do so.

The American church is salt that is losing its savor. Clinging to morally bankrupt politicians and expecting them to save our society just exacerbates the problem.

The solution, in my estimation, will be multi-faceted. However, the church divorcing itself from morally bankrupt politicians should be one of the first things done.

Mark_Smith's picture

T Howard wrote:

 

However, the church divorcing itself from morally bankrupt politicians should be one of the first things done.

Maybe I live in a bubble, but while I supported Donald Trump for president and as president, my church never even mentioned him! Not once!

T Howard's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Maybe I live in a bubble, but while I supported Donald Trump for president and as president, my church never even mentioned him! Not once!

I'm not referring to official statements made by churches. I'm referring to individual Christians (and especially public Christian leaders) who continue to support morally bankrupt politicians because of political pragmatism.

Steve Davis's picture

I agree with Paul that we don't have all the facts. But we have enough to know that we live in desperate times, not unlike other desperate times. No surprise since Paul told Timothy about the last days and troublesome time, days which I believe we've been in since the 1st century. What happened at our nation's Capitol was despicable. Time will tell whether the event has more long-term consequences than the Capitol bombing in 1983. Senseless violence from Left or Right is not the answer. Sadly many people pinned their hopes on getting the right person into office rather than pointing people to the only, all-sufficient One. We know by now that most politicians either want to attain power, remain in power, gain more power, and/or topple others from power. Power and its privileges are difficult to renounce. I'm afraid that the only thing that might bring national unity is an outside threat or national disaster where citizens are more American than Republican or Democrat. Of course, for believers we are first and foremost Christians. As for the tribulation, that's assuming there is one specific, future period from which believers will escape. I'm not persuaded of that. I am looking for Christ's return, a putting right of all things, a new heaven and new earth. 

I'm doing research for a book on the French Huguenots - Three Centuries of Violence for Freedom to Worship. Tortured, imprisoned, burned at the stake by the State and the Church. God's ways are often obscure to us. His people have suffered throughout the ages. No reason to think we must be spared, except in the end. In the meantime, preach the gospel, love God and your neighbor, stand courageously for the truth, enjoy the blessings of God, and have no confidence in earthly deliverance.  

Jeff Howell's picture

A side note: We will continue to think, discuss, and theologize the details of eschatology as is noted above. Indeed, I believe that greater suffering for the name of Jesus Christ is coming, and coming quickly. But, is it totally accurate to say that the Church has not been persecuted in North America? Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that, at times, parts of the Church have been persecuted. Or, the entirety of the Church has not been persecuted. I would mention that the Black church could point to persecution in its history, as well as possibly those Japanese Christians of the 1940's. Perhaps we could consider the 1st nations believers such as many of the Delaware/Lenape nation who were evangelized by men like David Brainerd, Count Nicholas Von Zinzendorf, and others. Many of them met their death, and were not treated differently than other tribes during the 1700-1800's. As far as suffering goes, the Baptists in the colonies could rightly point to suffering and persecution at the hands of others who were considered part of the greater Body, especially in Massachusetts colony and Virginia colony. Do these sufferings for Jesus not count? The point being this: We can say that society as a whole in North America has not persecuted the entire church during the 400 years of continual presence of those of European descent. But, it is doubtful we can say there has been no persecution whatsoever of the Church of Jesus Christ. My interpretive thoughts on the history ... 

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Several have noted similar points about my column. I do not mean to minimize the suffering of these groups.

Of course, I was thinking in the broad, modern context, as you suggest.

Much of the earlier persecution, certainly up to the 19th-century, was the "leftovers" from Europe—one Christian group persecuting another for alleged heresy. I see little continuity between that and the coming global socialism/techno-totalitarianism.

Blessings, PJS

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

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